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List of leaders of the Soviet Union
The formal structure of power in the Soviet Union consisted of three main branches that gave rise to three top positions.
The first position of importance was that of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, informally translated as President of the Soviet Union. Theoretically it was the highest position, since the Supreme Soviet was an interim organ of the Congress of Soviets, the latter being the supreme power of people, according to the Constitution of the Soviet Union.
The head of the government was the Premier of the Soviet Union. This was the most important position in Lenin's time.
After Lenin's death the most important position ultimately became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union who headed the Politburo.
In practice, the leader of the Communist Party used to occupy another position, which led to confusion in the West as to what is the number one person in the USSR: Lenin, Stalin, Malenkov and Khrushchev preferred the post of the premier, while Brezhnev and the successors preferred that of the president.
(*)The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was only created in 1922. From 1918 to 1922 its tentative predecessor was the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic (the RSFSR continued after 1922 as one of 15 republics in the USSR). From the February Revolution in 1917 the state was the Russian Republic though it was often referred to as Soviet Russia after the October Revolution in 1917 when the Council of People's Commissars was formed. (**)Date of election to the new position of Chairman of the Supreme Soviet;had been Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet since late 1988.
The post of General Secretary was created in April 1922 but did not come to signify the party leader or leader of the country until after Stalin won the struggle with Trotsky to succeed Lenin. The title was First Secretary between 1952 and April 1966. The "Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet" was the equivalent of President of the state while "Chairman of the Council of Ministers" and "Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars" were equivalent to Premier or Prime Minister.
Leaders of post-Soviet independent states
For details of the leaders of the 15 independent states that replaced the Soviet Union, see the following articles:
- Armenia - President of Armenia
- Azerbaijan - President of Azerbaijan
- Belarus - Leaders of Belarus
- Estonia - Politics of Estonia
- Georgia - President of Georgia
- Kazakhstan - President of Kazakhstan
- Kyrgyzstan - Askar Akayev
- Latvia - List of Presidents of Latvia
- Lithuania - List of Lithuanian rulers
- Moldova - President of Moldova
- Russia - President of Russia
- Tajikistan - List of Presidents of Tajikistan
- Turkmenistan - Saparmurat Niyazov
- Ukraine - President of Ukraine
- Uzbekistan - Islam Karimov
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